The more I advance into the thick darkness, the more reason have not to go back. I could only hear my foot steps, which from time to time had tricked me into thinking that someone was trailing behind me. Some thoughts flashed through my feeble mind.
“A man was snatched of his vehicle. He and his entire family was in the car. And when he resisted their attack, they shot him in the hand. Everybody who heard the gun shot ran more into their hidings because it was night and the path is always lonely and quiet at this time of the day,” Nkechi had told me when I went to visit at her house the other day.
“Which path are you talking about”
“Are you a knew comer here?” She moved closer to me so that should could speak in a lower tone. “You see, just after the round about at the junction close to fidelity bank and you take your right. That road has suddenly become dangerous since the atmosphere wears the eve of election events,” she continued as she gestured her words with her two hands.
Chioma had also ask me to come over to her house earlier today. She had promised to give me a novel written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, titled ‘Americanah’ because I could not afford to buy it. At her house, she was about to prepare their supper, although it was still somewhat afternoon; around 3pm.
When she looked at the things that she had bought she exclaimed, “I knew it!”
“Ikem! Please I want you to rush down the street and buy me Onions,” chioma, pleaded with her younger brother. She just realised that she missed to buy onions, pepper and nut meg at the market earlier.
A coarse voice thundered from inside their bedroom, “Ikem don’t listen to your sister. I don’t blame her at all,” her mother yelled at her. She seems to have forgotten the resent disappearances of young boys and girls along that junction nowadays. “If they have sent you to get my son, you have failed,” her mother’s tirades began.
“You may have to walk me down the market. You can go from their to your house,” she pleaded with me.
“But I am not going just yet.”
“I am not asking that we go now. When you are ready, then we go.”
She came and sat beside me as her plan to cook at the time yielded to futility. I just noticed that she had so much to gist about from the manner she rushed to where I sat.
“You know you just came back from school and so you need to be updated to the recent happenings around this our area,” she said, licking her mouth at the end of every sentence as though she had a lollipop in her mouth and with constant tapping of my laps as though that would focus my attention to her gist.
“Two cases of kidnapping had been reported by the police. A boy and a girl, both of them of almost same age, just about our ages; 17.” And in the report, some eye witnesses claimed that the boy was kidnapped during evening hours, when a wagon double crossed him and forced him into the car at gun point. Before people could understand what was happening, they had zoomed off.
“Where exactly did this happened?” I asked. I just wanted to be sure that it wasn’t the exact road Nkechi had told me earlier. To my dismay, she confirmed my fears. This got me frightened because that was the only route to my place.
“Chioma! I think it’s high time we left. I have over stayed my welcome and it’s almost night,” I said jokingly, while I sprang up from the sofa. I turned to pick the book that I came for, which I had left on the sofa where I sat.
“The market didn’t change much. It is same old market I used to know,” I said as we were coming back from the market and was getting closer to the junction where we are to part.
“Why would it change just for a few months you were away?” She teased.
“Ok my sister, see you next time. Be careful ooo. Don’t answer to anybody’s call, just mind your business. And make sure you put your touch on, you know how much darkness it’s always get down the street,” she warned me.
“Alright my sister! Thank you.” I know she meant well, but she had succeeded in putting fear in me with all her pieces of advice. And I remembered just then that my batteries were almost drained of energy.
As I walked down into the heart of the street, in the thick darkness my heart tightened into a small ball from fear. I stumbled unto pebbles here and there at intervals which at every now and then threw me off my gait as I could not see through the path because my torch light could not pierce through the thick darkness. A little hope flickered through my mind when I saw a two head lamp light advancing towards me. At least I could use the light to trace my path very well.
“No! You can’t just stop there!” I squeaked as the light I just saw was put off. This time, the whole place became darker as the intensity of the light has done more damages to my vision. I began to walk in a slower pace to master the path again. I sensed that something wasn’t right with the car that just stopped. But that was my instinct surmising it anyway. The car could not have possibly made a stop if not that the driver either ran out of fuel or he needed to pick something. The former was not rational enough because the car went to park normally. It was the latter that was likely to be true.
“But what could that be that the driver had wanted to pick from a lonely street, with his head lamps light put off?” I rhetorically asked. I quickly moved away from the side of the road where the car was parked. I noticed a movement trailed behind me but could not make out anything when I turned because my torch battery has finally been drained. The air around me suddenly smelled differently. It smelled of cool mints. I loved the smell and I started gulping some balls of it.
Shortly after I perceived the smell, I started feeling a kind lightheadedness, dizziness; my vision became blurry, my legs became like noodles. I saw three images of men, but could not identify them accurately.
Next, I passed out, leaving behind my body in the hands of these three silhouette of strange men.